Hi, I am in desperate need of your help! Actually I am writing on behalf of my mother as well who is going through the exact same thing but I will use my specifics to give you the general idea…
Up until autumn of this year I have always been 120 lbs. However, due to some emotional stuff that seemingly could only be cured by more terrible food, I ended up putting on 15 lbs. I am tall so the difference hasn’t been too noticeable but it did mean I went up a size. Initially it was just an extra 5 lbs but over the month of December I managed to pack on 10 more. After the New Year, I got my butt back into gear and started hitting the gym hard. That, however, didn’t really seem to be working so I also made some lifestyle changes. I already eat gluten free and avoid dairy (except for the occasional cheese) and nuts (they “stop me up”) but I went full on vegan. I even gave up alcohol for a month expecting the lbs to just melt off. But still nothing. It has now been 3 months of exercising every day (recently I have started going twice a day… a run in the morning now that it is finally nice enough to be outside and then doing some weight training after work), while eating as healthy as I possibly can and yet still nothing! I can’t get under 130 lb to save my life and with summer coming up, it is taking an emotional toll on me as I am starting to think I will have to buy new clothes for the warmer months as I had to over the winter. I mean, who doesn’t like a little shopping but I just don’t feel like me. It is also depressing thinking that I will have to work this hard for the rest of my life to even maintain this higher weight. Is it because I am getting older (I am turning 25 this year)? Is losing always harder than gaining (this has never seemed to be the case in the past but then this isn’t a couple lbs of water weight)? Finally, I did start the pill in January and while it didn’t cause me to gain any more weight (though my chest size went from a non-existent B to a generous almost C), perhaps that is why the weight won’t budge? My friends have advised it is muscle (which is the thing we all tell our friends in this predicament) but then why can I still not get into my old jeans? Please help J and thank you, I always love your articles!
First off, take a deep breath and stop panicking. Weight will fluctuate for the rest of your life and there will be times when your pants are baggy and times where you are barely squeezing into them. And if you are like me, you have a variety of sizes in your closet. I even have a pair of jeans that I maybe fit into once a year, when I'm at my lightest of weights. (I know I should just get rid of them but something about those days where they slip on with ease makes them worth holding on to.)
So to answer your question, yes losing weight is harder than gaining it. It does take the same amount of calories to gain a pound as it does to lose a pound but how much more fun is it to eat chocolate and drink wine than sweat away 600 calories on a treadmill?
Here is what I suggest you do. Cut out sugar - all of it. That means you pretty much will need to prepare all of the food you eat yourself. Lots of chopped veggies, fruit (yes fruit has sugar in it but it also has lots of other important nutrients and fibre), lean proteins, salads, steamed veggies, baked chicken and fish and eggs (to name a few options). If you are going to stay vegan you are going to have to rely on lentils for your main source of protein. Think like this: if you can buy the food on the perimeter of the grocery store it is probably ok.
Find a way to add in some omegas into your diet. When we are stressed we are in our flight or fight response which can cause our body to store fat, mainly around our midsection. Adding in an omega (my choice is Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts) can help combat this in combination with the elimination of other stressors like sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Sleeping is also very important so make sure you have ample time, at least 7 hours, to catch your Zs.
Next, nothing liquid goes into your body except water. I'm ok with a cup of coffee a day, or tea, but keep the cream and sugar to a minimum. And yes this means no alcohol or soda pop, even diet.
Last, and this is what helped me when I found myself in your exact situation two years ago, download a nutrition app onto your phone. I loved My Fitness Pal and using it actually helped me lose 17 pounds (which were the 17 pounds I didn't think I could lose). Record everything you eat – every bite. Keeping track of all of your calories plus what you expend will make sure your net calories are the correct amount to help you reach your goal. One piece of advice here is set your weekly goal to 1 or 1.5 pounds a week and nothing more. Anything more than that will most likely end up in you feeling exhausted, starving and deprived.
Sometimes we think we are doing the right thing to lose weight and it is very easy to overestimate how many calories we are expending each day and underestimate how many calories we are in taking each day. Keep consistent, stay positive and trust that you will get there, but keep that pair of “comfortable pants” in your closet just in case you find yourself in this situation again. We all do!